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Tulip plum

Scientific name

Pleiogynium timorense. Family: Anacardiaceae.

Local name

Burdekin plum.

Description and natural occurrence

This tree can grow to a height of 30 m and 1.0 m stem diameter but it is usually much smaller than this. The trunk is often irregular in cross-section. The bark is dark brown in colour, very scaly and rough and sheds in oblong pieces.

Distributed mainly in wetter areas along the Queensland coast from Maryborough to Townsville and in the Cairns and Atherton regions.

Sawn timber of this species is available but it is not a common timber.

Wood appearance

Colour. The heartwood ranges from pale to dark reddish-brown, usually streaked with darker coloured bands. The sapwood is usually pinkish-brown.

Grain. Close grained, fine textured wood. The grain is usually straight.

Wood properties

Density. 930 kg/m3 at 12% moisture content; approx. 1.1 m3 of seasoned sawn timber per tonne.

Strength groups. (S3) unseasoned; SD3 seasoned (brackets indicate provisional value).

Stress grades. F8, F11, F14, F17 (unseasoned), F14, F17, F22, F27 (seasoned). when visually stress graded in accordance with AS 2082-2000, Timber - hardwood - visually stress-graded for structural purposes.

Joint groups. JD2 seasoned.

Shrinkage to 12% MC. Not available.

Unit shrinkage. Not available.

Durability above-ground. Class 4 - life expectancy less than 7 years.

Durability in-ground. Class 4 - life expectancy less than 5 years.

Lyctine susceptibility. Untreated sapwood susceptible to lyctid borer attack.

Termite resistance. Not resistant.

Preservation. Sapwood readily accepts preservative impregnation but penetration of heartwood is negligible using currently available commercial processes.

Seasoning. Can be satisfactorily dried using conventional air and kiln seasoning methods.

Hardness. Hard (rated 2 on a 6 class scale) in relation to indentation and ease of working with hand tools.

Machining. Machines and turns well to a smooth surface.

Fixing. No difficulty has been experienced with the use of standard fittings and fastenings.

Gluing. As with most high-density species machining and surface preparation should be done immediately before gluing.

Finishing. Will readily accept stain, polish and paint.


Decorative. Cabinet making, turnery, walking sticks, umbrella handles.

Others. Has been used for smokers´ pipes, brush stock.

Identification features

General characteristics

Sapwood. Pinkish-brown.

Heartwood. Pale to dark reddish-brown with occasional darker bands due to latewood formation.

Texture. Fine and uniform.

Wood structure

Growth rings. Some samples give indications of growth zones.

Vessels. Small, uniformly distributed, except in latewood at the end of a growth zone, where present. Mostly in short radial multiples, some solitary and with an occasional cluster. Vessel lines just visible on longitudinal surfaces. Tyloses frequent; some deposits of extraneous material visible in vessels and rays.

Parenchyma. Indefinite under a lens.

Rays. Fine.

Other features

Burning splinter test. Crackles as it burns to a full white ash.

Further reading

Boland, DJ, Brooker, MIH, Chippendale, GM, Hall, N, Hyland, BPM, Johnston, RD, Kleinig, DA and Turner, JD 2006, 'Forest trees of Australia', 5th edn, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood Australia.

Bootle, K 2005, 'Wood in Australia: types, properties and uses', 2nd edn, McGraw-Hill, Sydney.

Hopewell, G (ed.) 2006, 'Construction timbers in Queensland: properties and specifications for satisfactory performance of construction timbers in Queensland, Class 1 and Class 10 buildings', books 1 and 2, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane.

Ilic, J 1991, 'CSIRO atlas of hardwoods', Crawford House Press, Bathurst, Australia.

Standards Australia, 2000, 'AS 2082-2000: Timber - hardwood - visually stress-graded for structural purposes', Standards Australia.